What is an infusaport?

A fellow caregiver asked...

What is an infusaport and what does the procedure involve?

Expert Answer

An infusaport, like an IV, offers entry into a vein. With the infusaport, medicine is given through a special needle. This needle is inserted through the chest skin into a surgically implanted dome or port connected to a catheter threaded into a large vein in the upper chest or neck. The infusaport is often preferred for giving chemotherapy for a couple of reasons: One, the tube goes into a larger vein, which better tolerates some medicines than smaller veins. Two, the infusaport can remain in for months at a time, whereas the "shelf life" of an IV is only 3 to 7 days. So if someone needs frequent treatments, using an infusaport won't cause as much wear and tear to the area, potential scarring and discomfort as numerous IVs.

The down-side is that getting the infusaport is a surgical procedure (outpatient, usually done with IV sedation and local anesthesia). With the surgical procedure, there is a small risk (less than 5%) of possible lung puncture or bleeding into the chest. Other risks include blood clot or infection. These risks can be minimized, respectively, with small amounts of blood thinner and with antibiotics.

The infusaport is easily kept functional when not in use with one injection of heparin (local blood thinner) a month. It's visible as a small lump generally on the right side of the chest. You can swim, shower and generally live life as usual with an infusaport in place.